Considered the most critical of Nigeria’s elections, considering the critical – and powerful – role that the president plays in the republic, the presidential election of April 16 has received so much attention. Voter turn-out improved when compared to the April 9 National Assembly elections but, as the final figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will reveal, there is still a sense of voter apathy that needs to be addressed. Nigerians need to be commended, along with elected/appointed officials who were saddled with the task of delivering hitch-free elections, for participating and watching over their mandate. It was pleasing to hear about communities that literally rejected efforts that sought to compromise the process even at the polling unit level.
The mobile app, ReVoDa, has now been downloaded by over 7,700 people. Building on the reports received on April 9 for the National Assembly elections, this week saw 466 new incident reports from ReVoDa users across 35 of 37 states (including the capital, Abuja) – compared with 27 states (including Abuja) last week. Reports were sent from Abia, Abuja, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states. New states that sent in reports for the presidential elections include Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Taraba, while no incident report was received this week from Gombe (which had reports for the National Assembly elections) and Bayelsa. The following summary reveals the verdict of ReVoDa users on the presidential elections:
- Electoral Officials’ Arrival: There was visible improvement over the April 9 reports, with only 2 (or 0.42% of 480) reports that there were no INEC officials at polling unit (PU) 10/22/8/7 (Delta State) at 9:26am and PU 18/8/11/12 (Kaduna State) at 10:03am. 33 polling units (6.88%) reported that INEC officials arrived late while 445 (92.71%) citizen reports confirmed on time arrival of officials. With 480 reports, we received 38% more reports than last week’s 349. Late arrival of INEC officials was down to about 7% from 36% while on-time arrival went up from 64% to 92.71%.
- Materials’ Availability: 98.1% of the 367 ReVoDa users who sent in reports said they were sure that electoral materials were available ahead of the commencement of the voting process while 1.9% stated that electoral materials were insufficient. This shows an improvement over 79% of ReVoDa users who reported materials’ availability during the April 9 elections but the 2% who reported insufficient materials should not be ignored because it is the constitutional right of every citizen to vote on election days.
- Voting: 0.6% of ReVoDa reporters confirmed that voting had not started as at 1:30pm, compared to 1.3% from the April 9 election reports. Early arrival of (wo)men and materials must have contributed to this improvement, but the target should be 100% on-time arrival. Situations such as the delay that was experienced in Apapa (Lagos State) due to a protest over non-payment of allowances should be prevented. We also observed that some polling units also maintained more than 300 registered voters without the advised split into multiple voting centres.
- Vote Counting and Result Announcement: 54% of ReVoDa users (same percentage as the April 9 election reports) stayed back at their polling units to confirm that they all witnessed vote counting. 92.4% of these reports confirmed that vote counting was done in their presence, immediately after the final voter exercised their voting rights. Of the 51.28% of ReVoDa citizen reporters that stayed back to witness result counting by INEC officials, 92.46% confirmed that results were announced.
- Violence and Fraud: 2.15% of ReVoDa users reported incidents of violence in their polling units, up by 0.15% compared to the April 9 reports. Polling units in Lagos had the highest number of incident reports while ReVoDa users also reported violence incidents in polling units in Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Jigawa, Kebbi and Abuja. 2.36% reported suspected cases of fraud, down from April 9 reports’ 3.8%. Polling units from Lagos and Borno recorded more fraud reports but other states that had fraud reported from polling units include Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Kano, Rivers, Sokoto and Taraba.
- Police Behaviour: Of the 309 ReVoDa users who commented on the behaviour of police officers in their polling units, 97.1% said the police officers were helpful (up from 96.3% on April 9), 2.27% thought they were biased (up from 1.6%) and 0.32% said the police officers in their polling units were intimidating (down from 2.1%). Until security of life and property is addressed at the highest level, our democratic experience – and general livelihood – will be imperfect.
We commend INEC for an improved outing, especially with the early arrival of their officials, but will say once again: you have a chance to make April 26 much better, and to use the state elections that will hold between 2012 and 2014 as opportunities to improve on the conduct of general elections in Nigeria. There were still many voided votes and low turn-out in some states, hence we call on all stakeholders to work with INEC to perfect this aspect of Nigeria’s democratic experience.
At the Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria coalition, we look forward to the last set of elections that will hold on Tuesday, April 26, so that we can have a honest review of the impact of our work – and also plan for the journey ahead. We believe that the real work starts after the elections, when citizens will hold governments accountable to demand good governance and public accountability. Even though the Register | Select | Vote | Protect (RSVP) Campaign has become popular among the electorate in general, and ReVoDa continually enjoys patronage and mention, we realise that the work of change in Nigeria cannot be reduced to few weeks of elections. We also appreciate our partners, City FM 105.1 (radio) and NN24 (TV), who consistently monitor the ReVoDa platform to share available content with citizens who may not have access to the platform. The project website, www.revoda.org, remains available for anyone who wishes to follow reports, and all they have to do is to click on the View Reports button on the homepage.
We encourage Nigerians, once again, to check the results that they dutifully recorded and transmitted from their polling units, against INEC’s official breakdown of results in polling units, to confirm that their votes were accurately reflected. This is 2011, our votes will count!